Today, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Critical Materials Institute (CMI) announced up to $4 million in funding to address challenges in establishing domestic supply chains for critical materials with specific emphasis on industrial relevance, participation, and adoption.

The Trump Administration has identified critical materials as essential to many of the technologies vital to the U.S. economy, as outlined in “A Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals.” Critical materials, including rare earth elements, are essential components of modern technologies, yet they are vulnerable to supply chain disruption. DOE invests $25 million per year in the CMI to assure supply chains of materials critical to clean energy technologies, which enables American manufacturing innovation and enhances national energy security.

“DOE’s approach to mitigate supply chain risks from critical minerals supports the Trump Administration’s goal of ensuring secure and reliable supplies of critical minerals,” said Alex Fitzsimmons, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency. “DOE and the Critical Materials Institute are focused on developing innovative technologies, in partnership with industry, to sustain the American manufacturing sector that relies on these valuable resources.”

CMI’s project call focuses on three areas:

  1. Process innovation that will transform unconventional sources of critical materials into commercial resources;
  2. New, highly-selective separation methods from industrial and end-of-life waste streams; and
  3. Innovative solutions for conversion of critical minerals into high-value end products.

CMI anticipates making up to six awards, with all projects requiring a minimum 50% cost-share. Eligibility for this call is limited to teams of at least two organizations. The team must contain one member of industry and at least one current CMI team member or affiliate. Concept papers are due on July 1, 2020. View the call for proposals and submission requirements.

Founded in 2013, the Critical Materials Institute is a DOE Energy Innovation Hub led by Ames Laboratory that seeks to eliminate and reduce reliance on rare-earth metals and other materials subject to supply chain disruptions. 

DOE recently announced $30 million in funding for research and development that focuses on field validation and demonstration, as well as next-generation extraction, separation, and processing technologies for critical materials.